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Food Flashes: New chefs, new kitchens reshape Hillcrest

Mo’s Universe welcomes new chef, Sean Magee, who will oversee the menus at Gossip Grill, Urban Mo’s, Baja Betty’s and the upcoming Hillcrest Brewing Company, due to open June 8. Magee helmed the kitchen at Proper Pub downtown after working for Urban Solace and the Grant Grill. “He has great energy and he’ll bring a lot to all four restaurants,” said Chris Shaw, founder and owner of Mo’s Universe. The position opened recently after Gossip Grill Chef Mary Jo Testa left to launch a restaurant in Italy. Magee said most of his changes will materialize by fall. “We’re heading toward local, sustainable types of menus, where simple, clean and fresh rule the day. We’ll update flavor profiles and cooking techniques while keeping the concepts in place,” he said. For information on menus and specials, visit www.mosuniverse.com.

Look for culinary changes in the coming weeks at Eden Restaurant, where Chef Kevin Schnell has teamed up with Tom Miller, a new hire hailing from The MerK downtown and who also served as sous chef at the former Better Half Restaurant in Hillcrest (now Empirehouse Urban Palate). Miller revealed a few menu items under consideration for rollout before San Diego LGBT Pride takes place on July 20-22. Among them are coriander-crusted pork tenderloin, Jamaican jerk roasted rock hen, new daily soups and house-made corned beef hash. Both the brunch and dinner menus will be revamped. 1202 University Ave., (619) 269-3336.

Owners of the long-established Ono Sushi in Hillcrest have gone into retirement, thus paving the way for entrepreneur David Cohen of West Coast Tavern, among others, to take over the address with Uptown Tavern, slated to open in early July. The space is undergoing remodeling by designer Michael Soriano, who bestowed his cutting-edge style to Vin de Syrah downtown, The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma and Raglan Public House in Ocean Beach. Cohen said the tavern will feature a large bar in the center and two patios, one in the rear of the building that the previous owners did not utilize. The food, he said, will be similar to that of West Coast Tavern’s, coupled with copious liquors and 20 beers on tap. Though openly gay, Cohen said his new venture “won’t be specifically gay or specifically straight, but rather a bar for everyone.” 1236 University Ave.

Read the full column in Gay San Diego, a SDGLN media partner, HERE.